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HELENA — The House is backing a measure that would allow small-scale dairy farmers to sell their unpasteurized milk directly to consumers.

House Bill 574 would allow farmers with as many as 15 lactating cows, 30 lactating sheep or 30 lactating goats to obtain permits exempting them from certain regulation.

The measure strikes language that would give the Department of Livestock the capability to regulate raw milk. The bill says consumers would be responsible in cases of illness resulting from consumption.

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Champ Edmunds, of Missoula, says the popular measure has gained widespread support throughout the state with as many as 60 people testifying in support in committee.

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He presented the measure Monday amid sounds of cowbells and laughter.

It passed its initial vote in the House 98-2.

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